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SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- A new child restraint law soon to take effect in Nebraska increases the age in which children must be secured in safety seats and requires them to be seated in the back seat.

The changes, which go into effect Tuesday, are aimed at improving highway safety and remove some ambiguity from the current law, which was last updated in 2002, said Mark Segerstrom, road safety project coordinator at the Nebraska Safety Council.

"The new law is much more specific," Segerstrom said.

The new law requires:

-- All infants and toddlers must ride in rear-facing car seats in the back seat until age 2 or until they reach weight or height limits specified by the seat's manufacturer.

-- All children up to age 8 must ride in a child safety seat/belt positioning booster seat.

-- Children up to age 8 must ride in the back seat if those seats are equipped with seat belts.

-- Children age 8-18 must be secured in a seat belt, safety seat or belt-positioning system.

Failure to follow the law is a primary violation, meaning law enforcement officers can stop a driver if they observe a safety seat violation. Drivers are subject to a $25 fine and one point assessed against their driver's license.

"The moral of the story is to secure the little ones," South Sioux City police Lt. Chris Chernock said in a news release about the law change.

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Segerstrom said Nebraska is near the bottom of highway safety law rankings.

The state's driving safety laws received a D from the National Safety Council. (Iowa received a D, South Dakota an F.) Nebraska, along with Iowa and South Dakota, also rated among the worst states for highway safety laws pertaining to child constraints and seat belts, according to Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, medical, public health and safety groups and insurance companies and agents focusing on highway safety laws.

It's hoped that the new law will make Nebraska highways safer for children, Segerstrom said. Each year for the last 10 years, an average of nine children age 0-14 have died in traffic accidents in Nebraska.

For more information and videos explaining the new law, visit www.drivesmartne.org and click on the Get Seat-iated tab.

Visit www.safekidsnebraska.org and click on the For Parents tab, then click on the event calendar to find locations of safety presentations across the state.

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